Her New Hospital Bed
by Jessica Ehlers, August 2, 2010
My friend is sick and in bed at home, dying. (I know, bummer of a blog post, aye? Would you rather I did movie reviews? Don't answer that.)
I had a high school counselor give me some unappreciated and unsolicited insight once. He said, "Jes, if you hang out in the deep end of the pool long enough, you'll drown." And ultimately, I think he was right. At sixteen, however, he just seemed vapid.
But back to my sick friend.
I met her a while ago. She and I were both attending to another mutual friend who was, herself, in the process of dying. Later, we both happened to step into a certain spiritual community around the same time. So there was a familiarity and an ease of continuity that just grew stronger over the years.
She was in my wedding. She gave me craniosacral treatments when I was pregnant. She held my heart dear as I told her my stories. She made me tea. I felt like no matter what, she implicitly understood me. So we were kin in that sense. The sense of implicit understanding. And it was beautiful.
She isn't young anymore. She isn't old, either. But she's well past 40 and 50 and even 60. Old enough. But not old. When things got bad with her illness they told her she could apply for new parts but she waived her hand and was like, "I am not going to take those from people who can Use them." Her kids were grown. Her career had come and gone. It was earlier than perhaps she'd planned, but she wasn't going to keep perfectly good parts for herself while there were people who as she saw it, needed said parts more than she did.
So she's at home in a hospital bed. Getting ready to die. Maybe dying right now.
And my heart is breaking because even though I know this is what she wanted and she is as comfortable as she can be, selfishly, I will miss her. Just like the holes in the rock where the glaciers once stood in Yosemite. The shape of her will be left on all of us who knew her. And so she will live on, like the rocks of Yosemite. Weathering the storms of our lives as we hold dear the ones who have gone and are going on before us. Because without them, what have we to guide our path?